Week 5 – A Book That Influenced My Life
Today, I dive into the waters of the #52weekblogchallenge! Since the other awesome authors I’m joining are on week five, I’ll be starting there and dotting the first four weeks in as I go. Check out the bottom of the post for links to more Secrets Of A Romance Writer awesomeness!
I had to seriously think about this one. I’ve been a voracious reader since before I could tie my shoes, and each one has left a mark on my life. Try as I did to narrow it down to one, I couldn’t. Two books hold the title of most influential in my life.
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott and A Love For All Time, the third book in The Skye O’Malley Saga by Bertrice Small.
Too Little For Little Women
I don’t remember exactly how old I was. Somewhere around second or third grade, I believe. The point is, I was young. The family was getting ready to head off on a trip for summer vacation. As this was back when I could still read in the car without getting nauseous, my Mom took me on the much-anticipated pre-trip visit to a local bookstore. One of those cute little Mom-and-Pop type places.
I scoured the shelves of the children’s area while she went to find something for herself. I crawled the floor for a better view of the bottom shelf. I stood on the precarious little wheely stool, craning my neck to see the top shelf. For the life of me, I couldn’t find anything that caught my interest. Rather than give up altogether, I eventually wandered to the side of the store where the grown-up books lived.
It didn’t take me long to get my hands on a copy of Little Women. Unabridged. As writers, we always hear about the importance of a good book blurb – well, that’s all it took. I read that and I knew I had found the one. Always excited to get into a new book, I ran to find my Mom. I found her talking with the lady working the store. I held up my new prized possession for her approval, which I quickly received.
The book store lady, however, rather promptly said something along the lines of my Mom shouldn’t buy that for me because I would never be able to get through it, let alone understand any of it. Right in front of me, like I wasn’t even there. I don’t remember what I did, though I imagine my younger self staring at the woman like she’d grown an extra head. My Mom’s response?
“Oh, you don’t know my daughter. I won’t have to explain more than a few big words.”
You go, Mom. She knew I could handle it, and we left the store with me cradling my new book after promising I wouldn’t start reading it until the day we left for the trip. Little Women is tied for the title of most influential book in my life because it was my first “Oh yeah? Watch me!” moment. I plowed through it, understanding most everything and only needing a little help with bigger words. It was the first moment I realized that I didn’t have to listen to people who tell me I am incapable of doing something.
The look on that woman’s face when we were back three weeks later to get me another book was the most priceless thing ever!
A Love (Affair) For All Time
Ahh, middle school. Or, as many of us knew it, the incarnation of Dante’s nine circles of hell on earth. I was the weird kid, the one bullied relentlessly by my classmates. I’d been called nearly every name in the book by the time I hit seventh grade. Books were my refuge, my best friends and my armor. Occasionally my weapon.
I loved nothing more than spending my afternoons at the library, which my folks had little issue with. The librarians knew me by name and I went home with at least two new books every other day. It was on one of these afternoons when I wandered into a little room in the back, where they kept the books on cassette (wow, I feel old saying that) and videos.
And the romance novels.
One of my earliest involved a lot of sex on a boat and a heroine with a penchant for flavored, colored and scented condoms. As an adult, I wonder a great deal about the author. I don’t remember the title. I went through a few not so great ones before one day, I picked up one with a beautiful woman with the most gorgeous, long red hair wearing an old-fashioned dress. That woman is Aidan St. Michael. The book is A Love For All Time.
I read it twice the first time I checked it out. I probably checked it out once a month for a long time. I may have had to hide my reading material carefully, as my parents would have had a fit if they caught me with it, but I didn’t care. Whenever the world around me became too much to handle, I would bury myself in those familiar pages. Aidan starts out kind of mousey.
An outcast, like me.
Past the marrying age, thought to be rather plain, looked down on for being well-educated in Elizabethan England. By the end, she is fierce, confident, a force to be reckoned with, her completely enamored (and gorgeous!) husband looking on admiringly as she takes on the world.
As a character, Aidan St. Michael gave me courage, hope for the future. As a book, A Love For All Time ignited my love of the romance genre. I’d always loved writing stories, and I was good at it. But that book gave me a path to follow, and this is where it has led me.
Thanks for reading!
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